The language we use in our classrooms helps to primes, prompts, and patterns our students' thinking.Harvard University-Project Zero Researcher and Author Ron Ritchhart (2002), Intellectual Character
Thinking Strategy Self-Talk Research
What do the Thinking Strategies sound like?
How can we talk to ourselves to create understanding as we hear, read, view, write, and/or do?
How do proficient readers work to understand the texts they read, view, and hear?
Use existing knowledge to make sense of new information
Ask questions before, during,
& after reading
Draw inferences from the text
Check & Repair
and use fix
Identify important ideas in text
Integrate information to create new ideas and deeper understanding
“This reminds me of…”
“This is like…”
“This is like ___ but not like ____ because…”
“I am connecting ____ to ____ because…”
“Why did they…?”
“I am curious about…”
“I am guessing that ____
“It seems like ___ and, so, I think that…”
“I don’t get it. I’d better read that again…”
“This was about…”
“I am confused…”
“I know that I know…”
“This seems really important because…”
“A big idea I am taking from this text is…”
“The author wants me to consider...”
“Putting all this information together, I now know that…”
“In the beginning…and at the end…”
“Now I realize that…”
“I feel that ____ because…So, now I will…”
The Compass of Questions, The Energy of Inferring
• Probe, ask questions of the text/author and
• Infer meanings in and beyond the text
I talk to myself by Asking Questions and saying…
n “I wonder...”
n “I am curious about…”
n “A big question for me is…”
n Journalist’s Questions:
Why…? How…? What? When…? Where…?
and by Making Predictions and Developing Inferences by saying…
n “I bet...”
n “I think that maybe…”
n “I’m predicting/guessing…”
n “The text doesn’t say this but I think/it seem like…”
n “This is going to happen next because…”
A Study of Questioning
Self Talk of Strategy
I wonder...and I found out...
I wonder...I found out...and/or I was surprised to find out... Why...
Turning the title into a question, I asked myself ___________ as I read. Why...
I am curious about...
Prompts for Questioning
What are you wondering?
Take me to your “I wonders...” Tell me about your thinking here.
What are you curious about?
Tell me about the questions you created while you read _____.
What questions did you answer as you read _______?
What did you learn as you read _______? How did your questions help you?
Do you have any unanswered questions? Oh, goody. Let’s talk about those.
Did you create a question from the title? How did it help you understand this
Books for Strategy Study of Questioning:
• Auto Mechanic, An by Douglas Florian
• Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
• Boy of a Thousand Faces, The by Brian Selznick
• Brave Potatoes by Toby Speed
• Case of the Climbing Cat, The by Cynthia Rylant
• Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie
• Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
• Come Back, Salmon… by Molly Cove
• Composition, The by Antonio Skarmeta
• Crazy World of What If, The by Steve Parker
• Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes by Louis Sachar
• Dragon in the Cupboard by Karen Dolby
• Fernando’s Gift/El Regalo De Fernando by Douglas Keister
• Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
Forest Has Eyes, The by Bev
Doolittle and Elise Maclay
• From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
• Giggler Treatment, The by Roddy Doyle
• Giver, The by Lois Lowery
• Guess What? by Mem Fox
• Holes by Louis Sachar
• Hooray for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester
• Ink Drinker, The by Ric Sanvoisin
• I Wonder by Tana Hoban
• Jeremiah Learns To Read by Jo Ellen Bogart
Shining by Karla Kuskin Jerusalem
• Jigsaw by Miriam Moss
• Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
• Lion’s Share, The by Chris Conover
• Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborn
• Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes
• My Name is
by Jeannette Winter Georgia
• My Teacher’s Secret Life by Stephen Krensky
• Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
• Picture Book of Harriet Tubman, A by David Adler
• Post Office Book, The by Gail Gibbons
• Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
• Someday Today by Bert Kitchen
• Spectacular Science by Lee Bennett Hopkins
• Super Dog: The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner
• Super Dooper Jezebel by Tony Ross
• Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan
• Water’s Journey, The by Eleanor Schmid
• When Will I Read? by Miriam Cohen
• Whipping Boy, The by Sid Fleischman
• Who Needs Birds When Dogs Can Fly? by Fay Robinson
• Wolf by Becky Bloom
• Words by Heart by Quida Sebestyen
Wordless Picture Books such as Carl’s Christmas by Alexander Day and Pancakes by Tomie dePaola
Books in Spanish such as ?Que hay
Para Comer? by Shelley Harwayne are published by
Mondo Press. A bibliography of
children’s’ books in Spanish can be found in Connie Weaver’s Practicing What We Know, p. 436 – 438
and I have included several in the Monitoring text set.
Mysteries and fantasy books always work well for cultivating questioning.
Nonfiction texts are born from questions. Authors often write to answer their own questions. Thus, these texts work well to help children become more conscious of the importance of questioning as readers and writers.
~ Question Quest ~
My answers and discoveries:
I found out...
Asking questions is helping me...
A Study of Inferring
I knew it...
I bet...I knew it...and/or I was surprised to learn...
I am guessing that...
Filling in the blanks here, I think the author means...
To cultivate children’s’ inferring, I prompt their self talk by nudging them with the following words as I confer with each child and meet with them in large and small group nests:
Tell me about your “I bets...” and “I knew its...”
Tell me about your “I bet...” here. Where did this become an
“I knew it.” or an “I was surprised to learn.”
What will happen next? or What will you learn next?
What do you think this will be about? How do you know that?
Was there a part where you had to infer? Tell me about that.
Like listening to me talk on the telephone, take me to a place in your
reading where you had to figure out what the author was saying on your own?
Do you like the main character(s)? Why or why not?
Would the main character make a good friend? Why or why not?
The author won’t tell us everything. They trust us to figure some things
on our own. Take me to a place in your reading where you had to figure out what was happening on your own.
What can you predict from this chapter title/heading?
Books to Share with Students to Cultivate Inferring:
Love Letters Arnold
Agee, Jon. The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau
Allard, Harry. Miss Nelson Is Missing
Alexander, M. You’re a Genius, Blackboard Bear
Asch, Frank. Bear Shadow
Avery, Charles. Everybody Has Feelings/Todos Tenemos Sentimientos
Babcock, Chris . No Moon, No Milk
Babcock, Chris . No Moon, No Milk
Baker, Leslie. The Third Story Cat
and Sabine; Sabine’s Notebook Griffin
Baylor, Byrd. I’m In Charge of Celebrations
Bellairs, John. The Mummy, The Will, and The Crypt
Bleguard, Lenore Anna Banana and Me
Bluthenthal, Diana C. I’m Not Invited
Briggs, Raymond. Jim and the Beanstalk
Brighton, Catherine. Five Secrets in a Box
Brookfield, Karen. Eyewitness series
Bunting, Eve All her titles work well
Calhoun, Mary. Hot Air Henry
Cohen, Miriam. First Grade Takes A Test
Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius
Conrad & Shulz Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life
Crew & Smith
Troy Thompson’s Excellent Peotry Book
Crews, Donald. Big Mama’s
Crews, Donald. Freight Train
Dakos, Kalli. If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand
Day, Alexandra Carl the Dog series
DeBrunhoff, L. Babar’s Mystery
DePaola, Tomie The Knight and the Dragon
DePaola, Tomie Pancakes for Breakfast
DePaola, Tomie Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup
DeRegiers, B. S. May I Bring A Friend?
Dragonwagon, C. Always, Always
Dragonwagon, C. Home Place
Duke, Kate. Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One
Duke, Kate. Guinea Pigs Far and Near
Fandex. American Indians; Dogs; Presidents
Feelings, Tom. Soul Looks Back In Wonder
Fleischman, Paul Joyful Noise
Fleming, Denise. In a Small, Small Pond
Fleming, Denise. In the Tall, Tall Grass
Fleming, Denise. Lunch
Foreman, Michael. The Angel and the Wild Animal
Fox, Mem. Guess What?
Fox, Mem. Time for Bed
Freeman, Don. Corduroy
George, K. O. The Great Frog Race
Gibbons, Gail All her titles
Giovanni, Nikki. Spin A Soft Black Song
Golenbock, Peter. Teammates
Graves, Don. Baseball, Snakes, and Summersquash
Green, Donna. . My Little Artist
Greenfield, Eloise. In The
: New & Selected Poems Land
Grimes, Nikki. It’s Raining Laughter
Gwynne, Fred Chocolate Moose for Dinner
Gwynne, Fred . The King Who Rained
Gwynne, Fred A Little Pigeon Toad
Hopkins, Lee B. Good Books, Good Times
Howe, James. Celery Stalks at Midnight
Howe, James. A Night Without Stars
Hughes, Langston. All his poems; The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
James, Simon. Dear Mr. Blueberry
Johnson, Dolores. Your Dad Was Just Like You
Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day
Lionni, Leo. Broderick
Lionni, Leo. Swimmy
Little, Jean . Hey, World! Here I Am!
Lucado, Max. You Are Special
Macaulay, David. Black and White
Macaulay, David. Motel of the Mysteries
and Tall Sarah Plain
MacLachlan, P. What You Know First
Maclay, Emily. The
Forest Has Eyes
MacDonald, Amy. Little Beaver and the Echo
Marshall, James. George and Martha series
Meyer, Mercer. A Boy, A Dog, and A Frog
Moon, Pat. Green Lines: Poems for The Green Age
Parrish, Peggy. Amelia Bedelia series
Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet
Pfister, Marcus. Rainbow Fish
Rylant, Cynthia. A Fine White Dust
Rylant, Cynthia. Every Living Thing
Rylant, Cynthia. The Relatives Came
Sandford, Lyne. Ten Second Rainshowers
Saunders-Smith, Gail. All her titles
Schertle, Alice. A Lucky Thing
Schertle, Alice. Keepers
Sendak, Maurice. In Grandpa’s House
Sharmat, M. A Big Fat Enormous Lie
Steptoe, John. The Story of Jumping Mouse
. A Summer Life Gary
Turner, Ann. The Hedgehog for Breakfast
Turner, Pat. Katie’s Trunk
Van Allsburg, C. All titles!
Viorst, Judith. Alexander Who Use To Be Rich Last Tuesday
Wilhelm, Hans All For The Best! The Secret of Happiness
Wood, Douglas. Rabbit and the Moon
Worth, Valerie. All the small poems and fourteen more
Yolen, Jane. The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery From History
Young, Ed. Seven Blind Mice
Thoughtful reading is only rarely a matter of flashy insight.
More often it is a gradual, groping process.
Dennie Palmer Wolf
Dennie Palmer Wolf
More THINKING STRATEGY
To model and demonstrate thinking strategies for students, to practice thinking strategies collaboratively with students, and to engage students in focused practice of a specific thinking strategy or strategies, the following texts help to illustrate each type of thinking for growing readers. In truth, you can model any and all thinking strategies with any book from your classroom library. Thus, there is no magic list of mentor texts…I just find these books especially supportive in offering more of an exaggerated thinking strategy experience for students…and these lists are ever evolving! As Shelley Harwayne share with me years ago, any bibliography we write becomes obsolete about 30 minutes after we finish writing it because we are constantly discovering new books. Please add your titles here and I will revise our book lists to keep our “master list” as up-to-date as possible J.
Please note: For ease of accessing these titles in your school or public library and/or to search for them in you favorite book store’s website, the book lists are organized alphabetically by the author’s last name.
Happy reading, happy mentoring!
Mentor Texts for a Study of Questioning*In response to current requests, here are some of my favorite books to help students study the compass of questioning. Additional mentor texts will be posted soon!
Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie
Amelia’s Road by Linda Altman
America the Beautiful by Katherine Bates
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
Grandmother Winter by Barbara Berger
If Sarah Will Take Me by Bouchard
A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
How Many Days to America? by Eve Bunting
The Wall by Eve Bunting
The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting
Lost in the Sun by Carrick
Grandpa’s Teeth by Clement
Big Al by Andrew Clements
Call Me Ahnighito by Pam Conrad
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Friedman
My Father’s Boat by S. Garland
The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland
Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons
Why is the Sky Blue? by Sally Gindley
“Keepsake” by Eloise Greenfield
How Smudge Came by Nan Gregory
Tight Times by Hazen
The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Heide and Gilliland
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Lasky
Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis
The Island of Skog by S. Kellog
UFO Diary by Satoshi Kitamura
The Slave Ship to Freedom Road by J. Lester
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Potato Man by Megan McDonald
Journey Home by McKay
The Wise Woman and her Secret by Eve Merriam
The Three Questions by Muth
Elizabeth by Claire Nivola
My Freedom Trip by Park
Wump World by B. Peet
Appelemando’s Dream by Patricia Polacco
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Best Christmas Pagaent Ever by Robinson
All I See by Cynthia Rylant
An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Something Permanent by Cynthia Rylant
The Van Gogh Café by Cynthia Rylant
Grandfather’s Journey by Alan Say
Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger
The Amazing Bone by William Steig
Brave Irene by William Steig
Dr. DeSoto by William Steig
Gorky Rises by William Steig
Solomon and the Rusty Nail by William Steig
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
“Windy Nights” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Mailing May by Turner
Nettie’s Trip South by Turner
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
Sector 7 by Wiesner
Tuesday by Wiesner
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
How Come? by Kathy Wollard
The Mary Celeste by Jane Yolen